Midweek Advent Services 2023 – An Introduction
The word “advent” can mean both “coming” and “arrival.” Usually during our season of Advent we focus on Christ’s coming – both as the babe to be born in Bethlehem and as the Lord of all to be revealed on the last day.
This year during our Advent Midweek Services we will focus more upon his arrival. This is the year of reading through Mark’s Gospel, and Mark records nothing about Jesus’ birth or the days leading up to it. Mark does have plenty to say, however, about his arrival.
In any kind of story or narrative, the introduction of the main character is of top importance and can be done in many ways. The YouTube channel Cinefix has a whole video dedicated to the “Top Ten Character Introductions in Film.” In case you’re wondering, they rank the introduction of Willy Wonka in the 1973 film bearing his name as their top choice. They base this on the great anticipation about him that is built up before his arrival – an arrival which doesn’t occur until about one quarter of the way through the movie.
In Mark’s Gospel, there are only eight verses – all dealing with the ministry of John the Baptist – which precede Jesus’ arrival in verse nine. And while these eight verses do share important items and build a little anticipation, they don’t introduce Jesus with much detail. The fuller introduction is given as Jesus begins his ministry.
The first verses of Mark are assigned by the church to be read this coming Sunday, so we’ll examine them at that time. We’ll also examine them again, along with the whole first chapter, during the season of Epiphany – the season that normally leads us in thinking about Christ’s arrival.
But because thinking about Mark’s introduction of Jesus with Advent eyes can perhaps shed new light on what Jesus came to do, that will be our plan. We’ll be led by Dr. David Lewis of Concordia Seminary, who wrote and published an Advent series based on Mark’s introduction of Jesus. We’ll use his insights and illustrations, and sometimes read his exact words – as if he were our guest preacher. Dave was a classmate of mine at seminary and a really good guy. You’ll enjoy hearing his voice.
Our services will also use the liturgy of Compline – a beautiful evening liturgy which will enhance our hearing of God’s word and lead us in our prayers. I hope you can join us.